Tom RostonIndependent journalist Tom Roston checks in and writes about the world of documentaries in his column, Doc Soup.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @DocSoupMan.

Doc Soup: A Late-Summer Search for Docs

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Like much of the media world, I’ve decided to check myself out for these latter weeks of August (so much so that I missed my Doc Soup deadline — my apologies to my POV minders!), heading out of New York City to the restful mountains of Vermont. As I always do when I come up here, I checked out what was playing at the local theaters, and was disappointed to see that there were absolutely no documentaries playing. I’m near the progressive town of Brattleboro, but my choices are between movies I’ve seen (The Wackness — yuck) or movies I don’t want to see (Mamma Mia! — no thanks). Keeping with my off-the-grid aspirations, I went old-school in my reporting and went to the one art house theater in town, The Latchis theater, but seeing that it was still morning, it was closed. I asked the guy working the desk at the neighboring establishment if Man on Wire or American Teen had come to town and he said that neither had. I dug deeper, and was able to get the breaking news from him that a “documentary about Mongolia” had played at the theater at some point recently. I hope he didn’t mean The Story of Weeping Camel. Disappointed, I headed over to the Blockbuster where I didn’t see a single doc on a shelf. (OK, there may have been some but I didn’t see them — I have to admit I was overwhelmed by all the Sarah Michelle Gellar and Brian Austin Green movies I’d never even heard of.)

So I went online to glean that the closest I am to a doc is Keene, New Hampshire, which is playing the Rolling Stones doc Shine a Light. What happened to the oversurplus of documentaries we’ve been talking about? Take a step out of a major city and everything goes dark? Man on Wire and American Teen are still playing in and near the 212 area code. I’m not naive — I know that the doc phenomenon has been a mostly urban one, but it’s interesting to see it for my own eyes. I guess the only big doc coming down the pike to stir things up is Bill Maher’s Religulous, which opens in early October (I’ve seen it and I’ll have much to say about it in a future post). Will it make a big splash? I actually think it will, enough so that I won’t be surprised if it’ll be playing at the Latchis.

Tom will be enjoying the rest of his vacation off-line. Watch for the next installment of Doc Soup in two weeks.

Tom Roston
Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He comes to us as a ten-year veteran of Premiere magazine, where he was a Senior Editor, and where he wrote the column, Notes from the Dream Factory. Tom was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, GQ, New York, Elle and other publications. Tom's favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi - Godfrey Reggio 2. Hoop Dreams - Steve James 3. The Up series - Michael Apted 4. Crumb - Terry Zwigoff 5. Capturing the Friedmans - Andrew Jarecki
  • Anonymous

    PBS is an acronym for NBC.  The coverage of the RNC is so biased towards the left it might as well be the Chris Mathews Show. Beware PBS, NBC is at the bottom of the ratings ladder.  You depend on donations, but I doubt anyone with any sense would donate based on your RNC coverage